Maricopa County Supervisors Ask Judge To Quash Senate GOP Subpoena

Published: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 5:48pm
Updated: Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 8:11am

Days before Senate Republicans plan to hold them in contempt, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors filed a new complaint in Superior Court to quash a legislative subpoena of 2020 general election voting records.

County attorneys wrote they are not challenging the Senate’s power to issue subpoenas. They acknowledge the Senate does have that authority, but they argue the authority has its limits. 

That authority doesn’t allow the Senate to demand the county hand over “2.1 million voted, secret ballots in violation of Arizona statute,” or give the Senate the right to the “inspection of certified elections equipment by a team of uncertified laymen who have demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about election processes and election security,” county attorneys wrote.

“In short, this case is about sham legislative subpoenas” they added.

The Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors and GOP-dominated Senate have been at odds since December, when Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and then Republican Sen. Eddie Farnsworth issued a wide-ranging subpoena of voting records, equipment and software. A similar subpoena was issued in January after a new class of lawmakers were sworn into office.

Supervisors have complied with some, but not all, of the Senate’s demands. In particular, they’ve refused to turn over access to ballots, citing a state law that the ballots must be kept sealed after the election. 

“The Senate is not above the law, and it cannot demand, upon pain of imprisonment or a misdemeanor conviction, that its subpoenas be obeyed even when unlawful,” county attorneys wrote.

Senate Republicans have responded by threatening to hold the board in contempt, a maneuver that comes with a threat to arrest the five supervisors — four Republicans and one Democrat.

Supervisors have also bristled at providing access to ballot machines, citing concerns that doing so could jeopardize their federal certification. For some supervisors, those fears were confirmed when Kory Langhofer, an attorney for Senate Republicans, sent a letter to county attorneys announcing that Allied Security Operations Group was hired to help conduct a Senate audit. The controversial Texas firm has worked with close allies and legal advisers to former President Donald Trump in attempts to claim the presidential election was stolen or fraudulent.

Despite the letter, as well as an announcement bearing her name that an unnamed firm was retained, Fann has repeatedly claimed the Senate has not yet hired an auditing firm.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Republican Supervisor Jack Sellers said it was “sad that President Fann continues to run from the fact that she has hired a debunked conspiracy theorist utilized by Rudy Giuliani to conduct a Senate ‘audit’ suspiciously as an impeachment trial is set to begin in the United States Senate.”

County attorneys argue that the supervisors have attempted to comply with the subpoena within the confines of the law. But they point to a pattern of demands and short deadlines, as well as conflicting statements from Fann and other senators about the Senate’s chosen auditor as part of evidence that Senate Republicans have not acted in good faith. 

The latest legal challenge doesn’t preclude a Monday vote, when the Senate is scheduled to consider a resolution to hold the board in contempt. The resolution is sponsored by Fann and co-sponsored by all other Republican senators. In a Senate divided 16-14 along party lines, their full support indicates that the resolution will pass.

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